Sheffield dental employee fell through roof

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OWNERS of a dental practice in Sheffield accused of breaching health and safety laws were told they should have put up warning signs - five years before an employee was seriously injured when she fell through the roof.

Receptionist Catherine Scarborough had gone out on to a flat roof on the first floor of Fir Vale Dental Centre for a cigarette and a chat with a colleague, when she fell through a skylight and landed in a dentist’s chair, Sheffield Crown Court heard.

The incident happened in November 2009, five years after a health and safety expert warned the practice, which employed five dentists and five support staff, the roof was a hazard.

Integrated Dental Holdings, which owns the practice, denies breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

The company, which owns dental practices all over the country, is accused of failing to ensure the safety of those on the premises.

Jason Pitter, prosecuting, said in April 2004 health and safety expert Victoria Waddle visited the premises on Blyde Road, Fir Vale, to carry out a risk assessment.

Mrs Waddle told the court she raised the issue of the flat roof because it was a ‘hazard’.

She said she asked the practice manager if it was used by staff and was told it was not, before suggesting the key was removed from the doors leading to it so staff could not gain access.

Mrs Waddle said: “I was concerned the roof had no edge protection and there appeared to be a fragile roof. You wouldn’t want people to access that roof.

“The solution in that case would be to restrict access and provide some sort of warning signs.”

Mrs Waddle said the practice needed a safety sign reading ‘no unauthorised access’ and a yellow and black sign reading ‘danger fragile roof’.

Jurors heard signs were purchased but never put up and that the improvements suggested would not have cost a lot of money.

Mr Pitter said in an interview after the incident, company director Darren Robinson blamed Miss Scarborough for putting herself at risk.

He said: “He said her personality was such she would have ignored any warning signs.”

The trial continues.